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What is a trustee?

The trustee is the individual who manages the property and assets that are included within a trust. Being a trustee means that you have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the trust and its beneficiaries. Many people will choose to be the trustees of their own revocable living trusts while they are still alive. A revocable living trust is often used to keep an individual or couple’s assets for estate planning purposes. This arrangement can include aspects of a power of attorney and last will and testament. Once an individual passes away, they will have appointed a new trustee to take care of the trust. This individual must be aware of their responsibilities.

The legal duties of a trustee are as follows:

  • Administering the trust by the terms of the document
  • Dealing with the beneficiaries impartially
  • Dividing and identifying trust property
  • Manage and invest the trust’s assets

Trustees can be paid for their work by using the trust assets. However, the trustee cannot overcompensate.

What are a trustee’s responsibilities?

The first thing you will be required to do when you become a trustee after a grantor’s death is to identify and secure trust property. You must also ensure you have control and access to all trust property and locate the governing trust documents to take investors of all assets.

If one of the trust’s assets is real estate, you will be required to locate the deed and ensure the trust has a clean title to the property. To gain access to a significant investment account, you will need to present your credentials to the investment service.

Next, you will consult with financial managers and tax advisors because you are responsible for paying the trust’s taxes and setting up an investment strategy. This step may require you to pay for appraisals of land or other valuable assets.

Finally, you will distribute assets to beneficiaries as outlined in the trust.

If you have any further questions about the responsibilities of a trustee, give our experienced Des Moines estate planning lawyer a call today. We will walk you through how to prepare if you have been appointed as a trustee.

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